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Health Education and Risk Communication Strategies

Standard Operating Procedures Should Include

  1. Identification of affected community members who can be consulted for advice on the design and dissemination of information materials. Representatives of affected community residents should be consulted at the earliest possible junction in the decision-making process.

  2. Immediate coordination with local authorities such as the local and regional departments of health, department of environmental protection, agricultural extension service. These officials may provide expert advice on specific features of the target communities and may also already have other programs that can provide a basic infrastructure for the implementation of the emergency MP program. The efforts of the local and federal agencies must be coordinated from the start so that potential conflicts can be resolved and division of labor can be accomplished smoothly.

  3. Pretesting of information materials before their release, to avoid misinforming the community. Because of agency time pressures during the MP crisis, it is understandable that pretesting was not done. However, a misinformed community can extremely time-consuming to manage. We recommend that in cases of emergencies such as MP exposures, a limited pretesting protocol can be implemented in which key community representatives are asked to review the materials for no more than a week. This protocol would help agencies avoid costly mistakes.

  4. Consultation with communication specialists, if not on staff. Specialists should be consulted at the earliest stages of the crisis, before any communication actions have been implemented. These specialists will help design a communication strategy and reduce the burden on the agencies responding to the emergency.

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